As part of a campaign to replace or renovate its aging facilities, Shriners for Children Medical Center decided to construct a new 74,800-square-foot healthcare center in Pasadena, Calif., to provide better care to young patients while advancing education and research. The project is scheduled to open in 2017.

Recent advances in technology and treatment methods provided Shriners an opportunity to expand to outpatient care while lowering costs. The new facility in Pasadena comes as the existing 1952 hospital in Los Angeles urgently needed seismic upgrades. After considering many options, including renovation, the decision was made to move to Pasadena with a new outpatient care model and partner with the adjacent Huntington Memorial Hospital for more complicated inpatient procedures.

The building architects, CO Architects and SRG Partnership, needed to balance patient privacy and safety, while adhering to the City of Pasadena’s master plan to have an open, welcoming building with public access and quality of street space around the property. This was accomplished by allowing transparency in the building and views into the garden space, with entries and landscaping along all sides.

The entire facility is conceptualized around evidence-based design, providing daylight, access to nature, privacy, safety, and infection control for patients and providers. Creating a medical center that incorporated these goals but still remained efficient and within budget was a challenging balancing act. In the end, the architects maintained all features and budgets by scaling, right-sizing, and controlling building elements.

The two-acre site is divided into a contemporary, three-story medical building on the northern half of the property and rehabilitation gardens and outdoor gathering areas in the southern part. Metal, glass, and stone exterior building materials create a refined visual texture. The façade modulates to convey interior interaction spaces and identify the main pedestrian entrance. Energy-efficient glazing, protective overhangs, and highly efficient mechanical systems are designed to save energy.

The landscape architect, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, was challenged to design a flexible healing landscape intended for rehabilitation. This was achieved by reconsidering the relationship between indoor/outdoor spaces of medical centers. A series of therapy gardens on the first floor uses different landscape and hardscape materials for varying levels of patient recovery. The playground features a recycled safety surface to provide maximum security for children learning to walk again yet able to use low-impact play equipment.

The berm garden features a series of braided pathways and earthworks for patients to climb and crawl over. Between the earthworks are ramps and stairs with handrails designed at different slopes for patients to begin learning to walk over more challenging terrain. Benches make the recovery experience more inclusive for parents and family members.

The building features multilevel, healing-centered landscapes. The second-floor Therapy Balcony and Light-Well Garden provide spaces for healing and rehabilitation without leaving the building. This allows patients at different recovery levels to experience the landscape before advancing to the exterior therapy gardens. The third-floor Sky Garden provides hospital staff outdoor panoramic views of the courtyards, plazas, and gardens below and beyond the Pasadena Foothills.